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We are expecting “peace,” though “in the way" of sin
We are “in the shadow of death,” or on the confines of destruction
But Christ became incarnate to deliver us from this stateThis end he invariably pursued in the days of his ministryHe still prosecutes it by the ministry of his servants-] The initial or moving cause was “the mercy of God”
[There was nothing in us that could induce God to send his Son
There was every thing rather that could provoke his indignation
Yet, unsolicited, he promised to send this Saviours
How should our souls glow with a sense of this mercy!INFERENCES
1. How willing is God to save sinners!
[With what unwearied kindness does he cause the sun to rise!
And how incomprehensible the love that sent us the Sun of righteousness ! Surely we cannot doubt his willingness to bestow salvationLet not any then entertain hard thoughts of God
Let all rather seek to have this “ Day-star arise in their hearts”-]
2. How great is the happiness of those who believe in Christ!
[They were once sitting in darkness even as othersk But they have been brought to behold this Day-spring from on high
They are now “in the way of” present and eternal “ peace”How great and inestimable is their felicity!
Let those that enjoy it be thankful for it, and look for its full completion]
8 Gen. iii. 15.
b From the expression caráy xuoe baées, “ bowels of mercy,” we may consider God as looking with pity upon fallen Adam, and reasoning with himself as he did in the case of his people Israel, Jer. xxxi. 20. | Eph. ii. 4, 7. k Tit. ii. 3.
11 Pet. ii. 9.
LXXIX. THE ENDS AND EFFECTS OF CHRIST'S EX
HIBITION TO THE WORLD.
Luke ii. 34, 35. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising
again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
THE ways of God are deep and unsearchable
The richest displays of his love have been often accompanied with the heaviest afflictions
The honour bestowed on Paul was the forerunner of great sufferings
Thus the Virgin's distinguished privilege of bringing the Son of God into the world was a prelude to the severest anguish to her soul
Even the gift of the Messiah himself, while it saves some, is the occasion of a more dreadful condemnation to others
It was foretold, that, as this was one end, so it would also be an effect of Christ's mission 1. The remote ends of Christ's exhibition to the world
God has on the whole consulted his creatures' good as well as his own glory
But he will not effect the happiness of every indivi. dualThe “ fall of many" was one end of Christ's coming
[His appearance was contrary to the carnal expectations of the Jews
Hence he became a stumbling-block to almost the whole nation
It had been plainly foretold that he should be so
This prophecy is frequently quoted by the inspired writersb
Our Lord himself expressly refers to ite-
[Many took offence at hime
a Isai. viii. 14, 15.
bi Cor. i. 23. 1 Pet. ii, 8. c Matt. xxi. 42, 44.
d John ix. 39. . At his low parentage, his mean appearance, his sublime doctrines, his high pretensions, &c.
Thus they became more wicked than they would otherwise have been
Thus also they perished with a more aggravated condemnations-]
But this was by no means the chief end
The “ rising of many" was another end of Christ's coming
[Jews and Gentiles were in a most deplorable condition-
And our Lord often declares that this was the end of his coming
Hence he calls himself “the resurrection and the life”k-]
[Few believed on him before his death
These ends, however, were more remote
The minds of men in reference to God were very little known
Neither ceremonial nor moral duties could fully discover their state
But he came to make it clear how every one was affected towards God
In order to this he was “a mark or butt of contradiction”
[No man ever met with so much contradiction as he He was contradicted by all person, on all occasions, in the most virulent manner, 9 in spite of the clearest evidence," and in the most solemn seasons
John xv. 22. 6 Matt. xi. 22.
h Isai. viii. 14. i Luke xix. 10. John x, 10.
k John xi. 25. Il Sam. ii. 8. mm Σημείον αντιλεγόμενον. . RH b. xii. 3. • Scribes, pharisees, lawyers, Herodians.
p In all that he taught about his person, work, and offices, and in all he did, in working miracles, &c.
9 They came to catch, ensnare, and provoke him.
r They would rather ascribe his miracles to Beelzebub, and his doctrines to madness, impiety, and inspiration of the devil.
$ Even on the cross itsell.
This was frequently as a sword in Mary's breast-]
By his becoming such a mark, the thoughts of men's hearts were discovered
[The Pharisees wished to be thought righteous— The Scribes, the free-thinkers of the day, pleaded for candour
The Herodians pro essed indifference for all religion-
[Christ is still a butt of contradiction in the world Before his gospel is preached, all seem to be agreedBut when he is set forth, discord and division ensueThen the externally righteous people shew their enmity
Then the indifferent discover the same readiness to persecute
On the other hand the humility of others appears-
And many believers manifest a willingness to die for
1. What self-knowledge have we gained from the preaching of Christ?
[He has been often “set forth crucified before our eyes”This must in a measure have revealed our thoughts to us-What discoveries then has it made?"
Let us take the gospel as a light with which to search our hearts
Let us beg of God to illumine our minds by his Holy Spirit-]
2. What effect has the preaching of Christ produced on our lives?
[We must either rise or fall by means of the gospel Are we then risen with Christ to a new and heavenly lite?
Or are we filled with prejudice against his church and people?
Let us tremble lest he prove a rock of offence to us
If we rise with him now to a life of holiness, he will raise us ere long to a life of glory-]
« Matt. x. 34-36.
• Has it shewn us our natural pride and self-righteousness, our self-sufficiency and self-dependence, our light thoughts of sin, our ingratitude, our unbelief, our enmity against God and his Christ? If it have not taught us these humiliating lessons, we have learned nothing yet to any good purpose.
LXXX. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF CHRISTIAN
Hos. viii. 5. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency?
MAN was originally made in the image of God
He then possessed perfect innocence both in body and soul
But this he lost through the commission of sin-
Nevertheless there is a comparative innocence to which he may be restored
The Israelites had altogether revolted from God
Yet to them did God address this affectionate intertogation I. In what sense sinners may be said to attain to inno
cency It is certain we cannot undo any thing that is past
[Not only our actions, but the effects of them will remain
We cannot restore those who are now suffering the punishment of sins, which they were led into by our influence or example
Nor can we reclaim those who are now living in courses which we once countenanced and approved-] Nor can we absolutely live without sin in future
[The Scriptures plainly affirm thisaThey who boast of sinless perfection are under a delusion
The most perfect man on earth needs as much to implore a forgiveness of his trespasses, as a supply of his daily bread-]
But there is a sense wherein we may attain to innocencyOur guilt may be removed
[Christ died that he might take away all our sins And they who are interested in his death are spotless before Gode] Our natures too may be renewed
[The Holy Spirit is promised to renew our souls
a 1 Kings viii. 46. James iii. 2. c Matt. vi. 12.
Eph. v. 25-27.
bi John i. 8.